Sistergiving

I have hosted Thanksgiving at my apartment for the past three years, mostly because I intensely dislike the idea of sitting on a crowded Metro-North train for two hours the Wednesday before, hiding behind magazines in order to avoid the people on the train I haven’t seen since high school. We are not a Christmas family. Thanksgiving, with its food and its revelry and the easy familiarity of drinking a nice glass of red wine around 3 p.m. with people I haven’t seen in a year is our tradition.

Spend More on an Austen than Austen Herself Made in her Life!

Until recently, the poster languished in the bedroom, leaning against a wall like Jordan Catalano. Then Ben decided that Something Should Be Done and started emailing auction houses.

How Grandparents Do Money

My grandma is 101-and-a-half. (With centenarians, like toddlers, you have to be exact.) Most likely, she is NYU’s oldest living alumnus. She graduated with a degree in Journalism during the Depression, back when Journalism was an actual career people had. Born in what’s now Bed Stuy, she has lived in the same cushy DC two-bedroom high-rise condo for several decades, with a view out onto the pool. From the time my grandpa died in the early aughts until this past October, she had only MSNBC for company. Now she has a live-in nurse. Still, she reads, and knits, and does her exercises, and she could teach me lots of lessons about life and finances, if only she remembered things anymore.

My grandpa handled the money over their 55+ years of marriage. Once he was gone, my mother had to teach my grandma how to use an ATM. Money in the abstract makes her nervous: she has very little sense of what things cost anymore, prefers to spend as little as possible, frets about whether she has enough. She does. Though my grandpa was born in a tenement building on the Lower East Side, in a family so large and poor he didn’t have a bed to sleep in let alone a bedroom, he too went to college — CCNY, baby! — and then to war and to work, hoisting his own family into the middle class, and then further up, because why stop there?

What he made, he invested, and the stock market treated him well. Though there was that one time he had the opportunity to buy a plot of land next to what was going to be Disney World and he was like, “A movie-themed amusement park? Why would anyone think that crazy idea is going to take off?” But the same gene that kept him from making the occasional good risky investment kept him from making lots of bad ones, too. 

With a Little Help From Our Family?

Undercover Economist Tim Hartford looked at a little-noticed survey by the US Census looking at household experiencing hardships in 2011 (like having your phone disconnected, missing utility payments and rent and mortgage payments, and not seeing a doctor or dentist when needed), and who helped when times were tough. He found that more than half of households expected help from family members, but not too many received it.

How Money Moves Between Generations (Not The Way You Expect)

At 80, since she has run through her own cash, the mom thinks it's fair to spend her daughter's. Meanwhile the daughter keeps cycling through the five stages of grief: denial, resentment, anger, guilt, giving in.

My 1 Thing Don’t Want None

Thursday is a great day to do that 1 thing you don't want to do but also don't want to continue thinking about doing.

WWYD With a Five Figure Check?

So, let’s say an elderly relative gave you a check for five figures as part of her estate planning, essentially an advance on your inheritance. Not a hugely extravagant amount of money, but quite a goodly sum, enough for one whole month of full-time long-term care insurance.

SIDENOTE: long-term care insurance is so hilariously expensive it seems insane that it could save you money in the long term, and yet Roz Chast’s new graphic memoir about the decline and fall of both of her aged parents, culminating in having to put them in a home, would scare any reasonable person into scrambling desperately to secure some kind of safety net for themselves.

Five figures! It’s not a prize, like the Pulitzer. It’s not salary. It’s not fun money, because it’s given in the spirit of Thinking About the Future. Obviously it’s not Quit Your Job and Retire money but it’s not nothin’. What do you do with it? Buy real estate, or ice cream sandwiches, or both? Invest in something? What? Put it in your IRA, or is that too boring and conservative?

Don’t worry, my fella and I are seeing an actual Financial Planner on Friday and so will get expert advice then, but in the meantime I’m curious. WWYD?

The Cost of Legally Changing Your Name

All told, changing my name cost be about three days work and over $300. I am lucky to have the privilege and ability to make this happen to suit myself in my personal and professional life. I’ll send you a Christmas card.

Think Of The Money I Could Make By Simply Ruining My Life With Airbnb

My sister is in town, staying at an Airbnb in the neighborhood. Or the neighborhood-ish. The intolerable and overpriced part of the neighborhood, that is. PEAK WILLIAMSBURG.

The Haves and the Have-nots

I was raised in a family where talking about money was not taboo. My father did a good job of raising two girls on a variety of incomes—money, was tight, and because of this, I was always aware of what we did and didn’t have.